The hottest topic of The Bear’s first season was, well, the hotness of Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White). More than the food, the themes, or the money in the tomato cans, viewers were obsessed with the “hot line cook” aesthetic, a sort of dirtbag chic propelled by Carmy’s penchant for fitted tees, smoking cigarettes, and just generally being emotionally unavailable. But in Season 2, the object of the internet’s thirst is the chiseled jawline and rippling muscles of hot pastry chef Luca (Will Poulter), who works in the Copenhagen restaurant where Carmy sends his own pastry chef, Marcus, to stage.
Luca’s vibe is the polar opposite of Carmy’s. He only appears in a few scenes and we never even learn his last name, but we get an intimate window into his psyche in these fleeting moments. We learn that he is tough but kind as he patiently teaches Marcus how to scoop a quenelle properly. We see his steely precision when he eyeballs lumps of perfectly-sized dough as he and Marcus prepare bread for the night’s dinner service. Where Carmy is a seething ball of anxiety and regret, Luca is self-assured, steady, and strong. And really, really good with his hands.
Luca is already the subject of many a horny tweet. And while his physical form is certainly impressive — those tattoos! the accent! the megawatt smile! — our interest in Luca is deeper than that. We’re attracted to his competency as a chef (watching him weigh out those dough balls is surprisingly enthralling), his brains (he has the chemical composition of sugar tattooed on his wrist), as well as his soothing countenance. He’s kind to Marcus, teaching him new skills without condescension or asinine chef bravado. He is the calm in the storm that is Season 2, and in a show this frenetic and stressful, his appearance is an especially welcome reprieve.
Of course, Poulter isn’t the original Hot Pastry Chef. Nicolas Cage (arguably) originated that trope as the sweaty, muscular, and deeply dramatic Ronny Cammareri, a bread maker at his family’s Brooklyn bakery, in 1987’s Moonstruck. Even Cher couldn’t resist his charms. But Poulter’s Luca improves on the formula — where Ronny Cammareri was a lot like Carmy, a little manic and resentful of being stuck in the family business, Luca is confident and enjoys his work. He’s also endlessly thoughtful, sending a gift to Marcus on the restaurant’s first night of service that calls back to an inside joke the two shared about basketball legends Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
What Luca really is, though, is a direct contrast to the “I can fix him!” vibe that was such a staple of 2022’s “hot line cook” summer. Maybe it’s because we’re all realizing that what is actually attractive is a guy who can competently bake a loaf of brioche, not the dirtbag from your local neighborhood joint who kind of looks like Carmy, always has a pack of Pall Malls rolled up in his shirt sleeve, and won’t confront his obvious mommy issues. I guess this is growing up.